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Tom Brady and the MVP field

2/5/2011

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the overwhelming favorite to win the Associated Press Most Valuable Player Award, which will be announced Sunday morning as part of the lead-in to the Super Bowl.

Here is one view of the top possibilities from the regular season, based on strength of candidacy:

1. Tom Brady -- In leading the Patriots to a 14-2 regular-season record, he finished with 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions, setting the NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception. His leadership was especially important given the youth on the roster.

2. Michael Vick -- The Eagles were initially questioned by many for trading Donovan McNabb, especially within the NFC East, but Vick quickly won over those critics. The dynamic quarterback had some dazzling performances, finishing with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

3. Aaron Rodgers -- Without much of a ground game, the Packers quarterback took a lot of responsibility on his own shoulders, playing some of his best at the end of the season. In four of his final seven starts, he had at least three touchdowns and no interceptions.

4. Peyton Manning -- The Colts' offense was depleted because of injuries, but Manning still helped direct Indianapolis to the AFC South championship. The 17 interceptions were his most since 2002, as he had to adjust on the fly with new targets.

5. Matt Cassel -- The Chiefs quarterback finished with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His value to the team was highlighted based on what happened when he didn't suit up -- a 31-0 loss to the Chargers on Dec. 12.

6. Troy Polamalu -- The Steelers safety, who was named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, made plays that win games, such as his strip sack of Joe Flacco on Dec. 5 that gave Pittsburgh the inside track to the AFC's No. 2 seed.

7. Darrelle Revis -- How does a cornerback without an interception have such value? When opponents hardly test his side of the field, it makes the game that much easier to play for the Jets.